THE ROCKET MAIL PAGE
By Paul A. Roales
As reviewed in "Air Mail Northwest" (March 1998), as seen in "NOVAAR Free Press" (May/July 1999), and as reviewed in the Nevada Stamp Study Society Newsletter "Post Boy" (October/November, 2005).
Page 1 Updated:March 11, 2003
NOTE: Be sure to visit Page 2 using the link near the bottom of this page. Page 2 contains recent information and is updated monthly.
In September of 1997 I tried to find a Rocket Mail www page without success. I used all the main search
engines and even posted a request on the rec.collecting.stamps News Group without finding a single site
devoted to Rocket Mail. So I gathered the meager material I had on hand and decided to write a Rocket
Mail web page. In the years since then I have received a lot of favorable comments and a lot of
help from other rocket mail collectors, and my collection has grown. Now it is time to revise this introductory page. This time I will post International covers with authographs of the early Rocket Mail Pioneers. I hope you
find this page helpful. I am not a dealer or an expert on Rocket Mail, just a hobbyist. I would appreciate any comments
and suggestions for improving this page.
(Material gathered from "Rocket Mail Flights Of The World To 1986"...see Reference Books below.)
Mail has been delivered by rockets for a long time. In 1870 a French patent was granted for postal rockets
to be utilized in the siege of Paris. But it is doubtful that they were ever used. We do know that rockets
were used to deliver mail from ships to the coast of Niuafo'ou (Fiji Islands) in 1902. But the idea could not
progress until the development of rockets progresses further. Although Rocket Mail was originally
developed to deliver mail to isolated locations, it is currently used primarily to commemorate events or to
promote rocketry and space travel.
The first "Rocket Mail" generally accepted by collectors was flown on Feb. 2, 1931 when 102 covers and
cards were launched by Friedrich Schmiedl near Radegund, Austria. The first U.S. Rocket Mail flight was
on July 1, 1931 at Struthers, Ohio. Some reference books list an earlier May 5, 1904 rocket mail flight
from a balloon by Chancy C. Phelps at McConnellsville, NY but that flight is unsubstantiated. Many other
countries have had Rocket Mail flights starting in the 1930's.
My collection is mostly U.S. Rocket Mail, but I do have some early autographed International covers.
To give the potential collector some idea of the cost of Rocket Mail covers my collection currently includes about 100 US covers costing as little as $2.50. The most expensive item in my collection is the
leather booklet covering the First International Rocket Mail Flight from the US to Mexico and back on
July 2, 1936. It includes covers flown in both directions, a rocket mail stamp for each direction and a
rocket mail stamp sheet for each direction. I paid $201 for that prize.
On this page I will show some of the early autographed International covers from my collection. On all covers the Ellington-Zwisler Rocket Mail Catalog reference number will be provided. For a complete discussion of the E-Z Catalog see
the Reference Books section below.
This United States cover is EZ 8C1 in the E-Z Catalog. It is a cover from the "First American Rocket Airplane" flown on Feb. 23, 1936. It was also the first rocket mail to fly across a state line. It flew from New York to New Jersey. This cover is signed by Willy Ley (the originator of the flight and a well know science author in later years) and Fred Kessler (the promoter).
This cover is Holland 5C1 in the E-Z Catalog. It was launched on March 6, 1935 by Gerhard Zucker, who also signed the cover.
Gerhard Zucker began experimenting with Rocket Mail in 1933 in Germany. He launched early Rocket Mail flights in Germany, Great Britain, Italy, Switzerland, Andorra, Belgium and Holland. His launches continued until 1964.
Check the References below for more information on Gerhard Zucker.
This item is Sikkim 13C1 in the E-Z Catalog. It was signed and launched by Stephen Smith on September 29, 1935.
Stephen Smith launched early Rocket Mail covers in India starting in 1934. He experimented with night launches, ship to shore and shore to ship launches, and even launced a cock and a hen in a flight on June 29, 1935. In 1937 he launched Rocket Mail in for the "All India Boy Scout Jamboree" Thus began the association of Model Rocket launches and the Boy Scouts. He launched his last Rocket Mail in 1944. In 1935 he also launched several Rocket Mail flights in the principality of Sikkim.
Refer to the references below for more information on Stephen Smith.
This cover is Austria 38D2 in the E-Z Catalog. It is an unflown cover that was issued by Friedrich Schmiedl on the day that he launched other Rocket Mail covers. Schmiedl would often sell both flown and unflown covers of his experiments. He has signed the yellow Rocket Mail stamp.
As mentioned above the first "Rocket Mail" generally accepted by collectors was flown on Feb. 2, 1931 when 102 covers and
cards were launched by Friedrich Schmiedl near Radegund, Austria. He also launched covers in France. He continued to launch covers until 1971.
There is a picture of Friedrich Schmiedl near the top of this page. Refer to the references below for more information on him.
This cover is something of a mystery to me. It is similar to both United States 29C6 and Belgium 16C1d in the E-Z Catalog, but I cannot decide which it is. Varities of this cover were flown first in the US on Feb. 18, 1960 by Rocket Research Institute and then sent to Belgium where they were reflown on April 27, 1960 by A. J. DeBruijin becoming the first covers flown on two continents. It is autographed by A. J. DeBruijn.
A. J. DeBruijn flew his first Rocket Mail in Holland in 1936. He also flew covers in Germany, Belgium, Italy, and Luxembourg. He continued to launch Rocket Mail until 1966.
I hope you have enjoyed my short survey of early signed International Rocket Mail covers. Please feel free to contact me with criticism, corrections or compliments. And don't forget to visit Page 2 of this web page by using the link below.
PAGE 2: Page 2 of my Rocket Mail Page contains the latest news (recent launches, discoveries of older unlisted launches, historic information recently uncovered, etc.). To get to Page 2 click HERE.
Rocket Mail is served by several collecting organizations.
1)The AMERICAN AIR MAIL SOCIETY has it's own www page located here. The world's largest and 2nd oldest aerophilatelic society. Publisher of the American Air Mail Catalogue, the
standard reference for air mail covers, the Ellington-Zwisler Rocket Mail Catalogue, and the monthly magazine, The Airpost Journal. The AAMS provides many other services to members.
2)The AMERICAN TOPICAL ASSOCIATION has a web page located here.
3) The SPACE TOPIC STUDY UNIT webpage can be reached here. Dues for the Space Topic Study Unit are $15 per year plus a $1 initiation fee and includes the bimonthly journal "ASTROPHILE". Their webpage contains a lot of interesting material including auctions of Space material.
4)The ASTRO SPACE STAMP SOCIETY also has a web page located here.
There are three basic reference books for the Rocket Mail field. They are:
1) ELLINGTON - ZWISLER ROCKET MAIL CATALOG - in two volumes. Volume I (out of print) describes, prices, and illustrates items, as well as indicating number of pieces carried and varieties known to exist. It includes all known rocket mail flights from every country through the end of 1967 in its 245 pages. Volume II (also out of print) updates Volume I by adding 168 pages of rocket mails from the beginning of 1968 through the end of 1972. Both volumes assign catalog numbers to listed flights, describe special rocket stamps, indicate values of any proofs or essays, list souvenirs, cards, and unflown items, and show postal stationery prepared by the post office involved. The two volume set sells for about $75-100 at auction.
2) ROCKET MAIL FLIGHTS OF THE WORLD TO 1986. A 191 page compilation of over 60 individual articles by the late Dr. Max Kronstrein. This profusely illustrated book has a chronological format. All of Dr. Kronstein' s widely scattered Airpost Journal articles on the postal rocket and related events are included. The period before World War II is broken down into groups of articles on rocket developments in Europe, the USA, and other countries. Various experiments during WWII are in a single chapter, while the postwar period concentrates on further progress in the USA, Europe and Germany. A detailed table of contents facilitates the locating of articles on particular countries, individuals, experiments, or years. - Hardbound $20.00 from the AAMS- Special price to AAMS members (Limited to one per member) - $16.00.
3) THE KAUFMANN-ROALES UNITED STATES ROCKET MAIL LIST THROUGH 2003. The list prints the information in Bill Kaufmann's unpublished 1996 update and revision of the EZ Catalogs plus my additions to Bill's list and my update of the information through 2003. It covers the United States only. The list has no illustrations and does not reprint the entries in the EZ Catalogs, just the omissions and over 30 years of U.S. updates since 1972. It lists 116 covers and many more varities that are not in the EZ Catalogs. The book measures 8.5" x 11" and has 12 pages. I am selling these for $6 each postage paid in the US (outside the US contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org for additional postage costs). Send check or money order to: Paul Roales; 1804 S. 117th. East Ave.; Tulsa, OK 74128; USA.
The following list of additional Rocket Mail reference material was taken from AIR MAIL NORTHWEST for March, 1998 (courtesy of Janice Weinstock: Editor), information provided by Charles Bromser of Australia, reference books on Rocket Mail in the Library of Congress and other additions I have located (not alphabetized).
1)Kosmische Post by Walter Hopferwieser. It is in German, but illustrates all covers up to July of 1993. It may still be available from the author at: Santnergasse 61, A-5020 Salzburg, Austria.
2)"Astrophil Weltraum-Philatelie-Katalog 1986". 4th ed., 1986.
3)"Catalogue of V-1 Rocket Propaganda Leaflets 1944-5", by R.G. Auckland. 3rd ed. Psywar Society, 1978.
4)"Raketen-Und Strahltriebwerke", by Hermann Langkrar. ca. 1955.
5)"Die Raketenpost", by Gunther Heyd. v. 1: Deutschland. ca. 1934.
6)"Rocket Airmail Stamps: a Specialized Catalogue", edited and published by F.W. Kessler. c1935.
7)"Rocket & Jet Posts", by Francis J. Field. ca. 1962.
8)"Rocket-Post Pricelist", by Karl Hennig., Casa Filatelica Antillana. ca. 1940.
9)"Specialized Catalogue, The Conqest [sic] of Space: Rockets and Satellites, Space Research, Geophysical Year, Nuclear Technique". 1963. (In English, French and German)
10) Sieger catalog "Deutscher RakentenPost Katalog". ca 1960.
11) Sieger catalog "RaketenPost Katalog". 3rd ed. 1971.
12) Sieger catalog "Spezial-Katalog der Raumfahrt Briefmarken". 8th ed. 1972. (2 v.)
13) Author: Rumbel, Oliver Keith. [from old catalog]; Title: First international rocket mail, U. S. A.-Mexico; Published: Brownsville, Tex., Springman-King Co., printers ; LC Call No.: HE6239.R6R8.
14) Author: Schmiedl, Friedrich; Title: Meine Versuche mit Postraketen, 1928-1935:
Briefe, Dokumente, Nachweise, Poststücke und Zeitungsausschnitte / Friedrich Schmiedl; zusammengestellt unter Mitarbeit von Karl Trobas; Published: Graz: F. Schmiedl, 1994; LC Call No.: HE6979.A4S36 1994.
15) Author: Smith, Stephen H. [from old catalog]; Title: Rocket mail catalogue and historical survey of first experiments in rocketry; Published: Jamaica, N.Y., (Billig's Specialized Catalogues, v. 8, 8A, 8B) 1955-1965. LC Call No.: HE6238.S6 1955.
16) Author: [Smith, Stephen H.] [from old catalog]; Title: Rocket mail catalogue and historical survey of first experiments in rocketry; Published: Allahabad, Imperial Stamp Co. ; LC Call No.: HE6238.S6 1943.
17) Author: Smith, Stephen H. (Stephen Hector), 1891-1951; Title: From the diary of Stephen Smith / Stephen H. Smith; compiled by D.N. Jatia for the Philatelic Congress of India; Published: New Delhi: The Congress, 1980; LC Call No.: HE6239.R6S65 1980.
18) Author: Trobas, Karl; Title: Raketen, Raketenpost, Postraketen: der österreichische Raketenpionier Friedrich Schmiedl / Karl Trobas; herausgegeben von Werner Emig.; Published: Graz: RM-Druck- & Verlag, 1992; LC Call No.: HE6979.A4T77 1992., ISBN 3-85375-008-7
19) Author: Tullberg, Sigurd. [from old catalog]; Title: Fr¯n ballong til raket:;
Published: [Stockholm, 1961]; LC Call No.: HE6238.T8.
20) Raketen Raketenpost Postraketen, Freidrich Schmiedl ein Rakentenpionier aus Graz II Band By Karl Trobas; 1998, 396 pages, Colour illustrations, ISBN 3-900993-89-0".
21) "Official Collection of Information Concerning the First International Rocket Mail Flight, McAllen, Texas and Reynosa, Mexico July 2, 1936" by O. K. Rumbel, Post Historian of the Loyal Post #37, American Legion, McAllen, Texas. Published in 1957 and runs 56 pages with 30 illustrations.
So far I have found very few dealers who carry a lot of Rocket Mail covers. If you are a dealer, or know of one, who would like to be listed on this page send me an email and describe your services. Notice: listing a dealer on this part of my web page does not imply an endorsement of the dealer. I have not delt with all the dealers listed on this page.
1) eBay Auctions usually has Rocket Mail covers for auction, normally under their "Stamps" category. Go here and search under "rocket mail", "rocket cover" and "missile mail" (with quotation marks) to see if there are any current offerings.
2) A Russian Dealer TYKOON has a web page with Flown Covers and other material located here.
3) Check Phil Bansner's web page here. He often has used copies of the E-Z Catalogs available for sale.
4) To get information about flying your own material to space aboard the ISS (your own Rocket Mail) check out Florian Noller's web page here and follow the links.
5) AEROPHIL. Aerophilatelic & commercial aviation literature, air crash covers (world's largest stock) & air mail covers. Has a small selection of rocket mail literature located here.
6) I recently got a Rocket Mail Catalog from Warren Crain, P.O. Box 5954, San Antonio, TX 78201 (he does not have a website or email). His selection of rocket mail covers is impressive. He asks $1 in cash or stamps for his catalog.
7) Joe Frasketi has posted Rocket mail covers for sale on his web page here. He also has lots of other Space items for sale.
8) Joe Volutza also has a web page with rocket mail covers for sale here. Look under the heading Rocket Launches and a sub menu will appear. There you will find Rocket Mail.
1) This web page has some coverage of English Rocket Mail. The page is titled "The Rockets Red Glare" and discusses Model Rocketry's Heritage in England. It has a short section on English Rocket Mail complete with illustrations. It is located here.
2) Go to the Scouts On Stamps Society International, Inc. web page here and then click on "Index" at the top. Then scroll down this new page and click on "Air & Space". Then look under the topic "Rockets" to find links to several pages with discussions and images of Scouting and Rocket Mail .
3) If you are an admirer of Austrian Rocket Mail pioneer Friedrich Schmiedl you might enjoy checking out the web page located here. It is in German but the pictures are great.
4) Eric Lefcowitz writes a weekly column for America Online called The Retro
Future. This column featured Rocket Mail.
5) Check Mr. James Hill's web page on his Australian Rocket Mail launches since 1992. It is located here.
6) The exchange of emails between Richard Gollin and the Hartman Institute about Gerhard Zucker has been published on the Institute web site. Go here and click on the "Rockets" button near the bottom of the page on the left to get to that very intersting illustrated discussion.
7) The US Post Office has some remarks about "missile mail" on their web page check it out here.
8) Henri Aronis in France (a dentist) has prepared a web page on Indian Rocket Mail Pioneer Stephen Smith (who was also a dentist). You can view that web page here. It is in French.
9) Dominiek Vandenberghe in Belgium has created a new web page on Rocket Mail pioneer Karl Roberti. The opening page will allow you to view the information in English by clicking on the British flag. It is located here.
"Rocket Mail" on the Latin American Aviation Heritage webpage. About one of the first recorded attempts to employ rockets as a means to transport mail which took place back in 1936 between the cities of McAllen, Texas, in the United States, and Reynosa, in Mexico.
Several pages (use the links on the edge of the screen) about the King GeorgeV Silver Jubilee Rocket Mail in Australia and India.
Texas Escapes Historic Travel Magazine on the web.
About one of the first recorded attempts to employ rockets as a means to transport mail which took place back in 1936 between the cities of McAllen, Texas, in the United States, and Reynosa, in Mexico.
The Astro Space Stamp Society has several web pages (at least 2) on Rocket Mail Pioneers. Note: I had problems with this page loading and the links from one page to the next never did load.
The Film Hebrides sitre about the filming of Gerhard Zucher's life called THE ROCKET POST. Follow the various links (Press, Stories, etc.) to other parts of the page.
A Smitsonian page on the Richard Koszarski attempted Rocket Mail launch at Camp Pickett in the 60's.
Australian Philatelic Federation page on Astrophilately (Rocket mail).
One page on Friedrich Schmiedl.
To get to Page 2 of this Rocket Mail web site click HERE.
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Page and all contents copyright 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008 by Paul A. Roales